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Everyone knows that bees in general are crucial pollinators, but what’s all the buzz about the mason bee specifically? Let’s learn more about these beneficial insects and how we can make sure our gardens are set up to host our busy pollinator pals this spring.
Mason bees are a native species that is quite common in North America. In fact, according to Organic Control, “there are 402 species that live in the United States.” However, unlike the honey or bumble bee, which are famous for their yellow and black markings, the mason bee is actually metalic blue or blue-black in color. In fact, it’s not uncommon that they are mistaken for large flies and are treated as such. So, watch out for fly swatters, Mr. Mason Bee!
They also differ from honey bees in that that do not have a queen, live in a hive, or make honey at all. And so, since they are off the hook when it comes to “hive duties,” mason bees are typically a lot less aggressive without a queen to protect and rarely sting.
You guessed it – mason bees, like their counterparts, are excellent pollinators! But, you likely didn’t know that they are actually 120 times more effective at pollinating than honey or bumble bees according to Organic Control, Inc. Crazy right? They are also some of the earliest risers in spring emerging while temperatures are still cold and other bees are awaiting warmer days to become active. This is typically when fruit trees begin to bloom. All this increased pollination will improve the yield on fruit trees and increase the quantity and quality of blooms on flowering plants and herbs. By mid-March in Oklahoma, you can expect mason bees to be out and about putting their pollination skills to work!
Setting your outdoor space up for mason bees is easy! Start by planting some native flowers or flowers with single rows of petals. And always provide an open patch of mud that the bees can use to construct their home.
Purchase a Mason Bee Starter Kit for all the essentials to create the perfect environment for your new pollinator pals. These kits are currently available at Marcum’s Nursery Goldsby location only.
Organic Control, Inc. | https://organiccontrol.com/mason-bees/Friends of the Earth | https://foe.org/blog/why-are-bees-important/